A Cento from October’s Poems

photo (3)It has been a great pleasure to have featured eleven poems up to the end of October. In order, these were:

1.  Birmingham Roller by Liz Berry (with a video of Liz reading it so beautifully).

2.  Hoxton Stories by Karen McCarthy Woolf

3.  This Zinc Roof by Kei Miller.

4.  North by Paul Summers

5.  Shitneck. Playing the Name Game by Steve Ely (with a video of him reading his poem Arthur Scargill)

6.  Quality Street by Debris Stevenson (with a great performance from her at Wordsmiths & Co)

7.  Portraits of Women – East London 1888 by Anna Robinson

8.  Living Space by Imtiaz Dharker (with a video of her reading two poems for Bloodaxe)

9.  Last Orders for Chesterfield by Helen Mort

10. A Conversation with a Man in Wetherspoon’s by Raymond Antrobus (with a video of him acting it out)

11. I Beg to Apply for the Post by Catherine Graham

I am really grateful to the poets and have met some great people on the way, including Jo Bell, Jill Abram, & Gale Burn at the Forward Prize, Kim Moore, Hilda Sheehan at The Shuffle at the Poetry Cafe, and Dean Atta when I read at Keats House), as well as having an article in the Morning Star thanks to the editor of Well Versed, Jody Porter. It’s been a great month and thank you to all followers of the blog and on Twitter. Featured poems in November will come from, Jo Bell, Dean Atta, Roy Marshall, Kim Moore, Patience Agbabi, Angela France, Owen Gallagher and a few more surprises. So keep reading and send me suggestions for any poems that can be included in future.

In a change to a typical round up of posts, I have drafted a Cento taking a line or phrase from each of the eleven poems featured on the site so far. The themes that emerge include, identity, home, family, friendship, objects, vernacular, the pub, town and city. I hope you like it.

A Cento: poems from Proletarian Poetry in October

The docks are on fire, flames have turned the sky red,

the air is anxious with the smell of cigarettes

and clammy with microwave heat.

The colour of ower town: concrete, steel, oily

rainbow. Behind the stripped out cinema,

one cod, one kipper, touch knees. Tear open


these tenement houses where beams balance

crookedly on supports thrust off vertical,

nails clutch at open seams. The flat top roof

rises with the hurricane, sails in the wind.

The whole structure leans dangerously

towards the miraculous. Dazzling in

backyards where all you had to do was go

to the kahzee, and the back lane was a canvas

to the local graffiti artist cacophony of skills.


Home is complicated now because

not all of them exist. The backbone of

inglorious empire, the most loveable

laughable lion by far, stubborn

old heart of a dying beast

That covers us. That chokes us.

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